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The Renaissance was a cultural movement and time period in the History of Europe, considered to mark the end of the Middle Ages. The Renaissance is usually considered to have begun in the 14th century in Italy and the 16th century in northern Europe. It is also known as "Rinascimento" (in Italian).

The following article discusses the Renaissance in its most traditional form, as a cultural and scientific rebirth that began in 14th century Italy, where one of its main centers was Florence, Italy, and then spread throughout Europe. In science, theology, literature and art, the Renaissance began with a rediscovery of and focus on older Greek texts which had disappeared from the West in the latter years of the Roman Empire.

"Renaissance" is a French word that literally means rebirth. This name has been historically used in contrast to the Dark Ages, a term coined by Petrarch to refer to what we now call the Middle Ages. Following Petrarch's lead, the term had long been considered appropriate because during the Renaissance, the literature and culture of the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome were adopted by scholars and artists in Italy, and widely disseminated through printing.

The term renaissance was probably first applied to this period of history by the French painter Vasari in around 1550. Vasari used the term Renaissance to describe the changes in the world of art that occurred during that time. Many people today still make the mistake of identifying the renaissance as purely an artistic movement.

More properly, the renaissance was a movement that embodied both culture, thought, and especially learning. The renaissance itself can be identified with the rise of Humanism which began in Italy with authors such as Boccaccio and Petrarch in the 14th century and ran through the 15th century with Erasmus and many others, and into the High Renaissance period of the 16th century when Mannerism became prevalent.

Towards the end of the Renaissance, scientists increasingly began to reject Greek (and biblical) sources in favor of new discoveries. Theologians continued to focus on the Greek, as well as on the relatively new study Hebrew and Aramaic. The second half of the Renaissance is also the period of the Reformation, although it could be argued that the conflict between Humanism and Scholasticism, which was very much the footprint of the Renaissance, was also the starting point for the Reformation. In any case, the Renaissance and Reformation overlapped fairly heavily if you were to take a strict time-period viewpoint.

Rinascimento is also considered as a sort of natural evolution of italian Umanesimo.

During the last quarter of the 20th century, however, more and more scholars began to take a view that the Renaissance was perhaps only one of many such movements. This was in large part due to the work of historians like Charles H. Haskins, who made convincing cases for a "Renaissance of the 12th century," as well as by historians arguing for a "Carolingian renaissance." Both of these concepts are now accepted by the scholarly community at large; as a result, the present trend among historians is to discuss each so-called renaissance in more particular terms, e.g., the Italian Renaissance, the English Renaissance, etc. This terminology is particularly useful because it eliminates the need for fitting "The renaissance" into a chronology that previously held that it was preceded by the Middle Ages and followed by the Reformation, which was sometimes patently false. The entire period is now more often replaced by the term 'Early Modern' in the practice of historians. See periodization.

Important Renaissance Poltical Leaders:

Important Renaissance Religious Figures:

Important Renaissance authors:

Important Renaissance artists:

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Renaissance Music

The advent of the printing press in the renaissance allowed the wide distribution of printed music. This allowed composers to sell their work more widely and obtain a better living. Important Renaissance composers and arrangers of music include Josquin Des Prez, Tielman Susato and Johann Fux.

Renaissance Dance

Although dance as an art form was well known in the middle ages, the first recorded dance instructions and choreography date from the middle of the 15th century.

Early Italian dancemasters include Domenico da Piacenza and his students Antonio Cornazano and Guglielmo Ebreo (Guglielmo the Jew).

Dance masters of the late 16th century include the Italians Fabritio Caroso and Cesare Negri as well as the frenchmen Thoinot Arbeau and Antoine Arena.